Tracie Hunter, an Ohio juvenile court judge, used her position of power to assist an accused criminal in blackmailing his minor victim. Stephen Hunter, her brother, was a juvenile prison officer in the Hamilton County judicial system when he was accused of assaulting a youngster while on duty.
Stephen’s employer, understandably, advised that he be fired. Tracie then exploited her authority to collect sensitive records regarding the juvenile victim in order to save her brother from being fired. The disgraced judge was charged with leaking the information and having an illegal interest in a public contract, both of which are felonies.
Tracie Hunter was eventually sentenced to 6 months in prison, but she spent the following 5 years on the run while continually appealing the judgment. When a no-nonsense judge made the ultimate judgment to order her to serve her sentence, she and her supporters were there to make a complete mess of themselves in a futile effort.
As soon as Common Pleas Judge Patrick Dinkelacker stated that Hunter’s earlier sentence of 6 months in prison would be upheld, the ex-family judge and friends started yelling, sobbing, and storming the front of the courtroom, threatening to “burn” the city. Hunter is then shown on video collapsing as a constable tries to accompany her out, prompting the female police to haul her away.
Shortly before issuing his decision, Judge Dinkelacker stated that he had received hundreds of letters, the majority of which were anonymous, seeking Hunter’s acquittal. He noted that some of the messages were threatening, but he would not be frightened into deviating from the law.
Others of Hunter’s fans, predictably, distorted her heinous acts to fit their own narrative, making the jury’s ruling about race rather than justice. Bishop Bobby Hilton, who is also the head of the Greater Cincinnati Chapter of the National Action Network (NAN), asserted in Hamilton that “blacks are not respected” and that white people are targeting “our people.”
Protests broke out both inside and outside of the courthouse. Supporters donned “Justice for Judge Tracie M. Hunter” t-shirts and held banners that stated, “Hamilton will not silence me!” When Hunter stood from her chair to be led out by the bailiff, one lady lunged at her. Before she could reach the defense table, the lady was dragged away in handcuffs.
The Hamilton County Sheriff’s Department is looking into allegations that Hunter is being abused in jail. Hunter and her supporters both say that she is innocent and that the accusations against her are based on politics.
With tremendous power comes enormous responsibility, and hence significant consequences for failing to maintain such a position honorably. Hunter’s misuse of power was more heinous due to her position of authority, and she must be held to a higher standard.
Judge Dinkelacker’s judgment was certainly right, since it reinforces the truth that judges have tremendous authority over the lives of ordinary individuals. As a result, tolerating even a little misappropriation has long-term and terrible effects for the person subject to it.